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Kawhi Drills Insane Buzzer Beater to End the Sixers Season

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Kawhi Leonard is a cold-blooded killer.

There is just no other way to describe him, especially after his sensational Game 7 performance tonight as he lead the Raptors into the Eastern Conference Finals.

Leonard was amazing all game, but saved his greatest heroics for the 4th quarter. With the game tied and just four seconds left, Kawhi hit a buzzer beater that you have to see to believe.

Kawhi is often mocked for his robot-like demeanor, but even he had to show emotion after that crazy shot.

Kawhi’s shot was actually the first buzzer beater to win a Game 7 in the history of the NBA Playoffs and he became just the second player to ever end a series in that fashion.

Leonard scored 15 points in the fourth quarter and 41 altogether, as he ended the Philadelphia 76ers season.

Now things only get harder for Leonard and the Raptors as they will square off against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Bucks had the best record in the NBA this season and have only lost one game in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Game 1 of that series will tip off on Wednesday night.

Basketball

Russell Westbrook Traded to the Houston Rockets For Chris Paul and Draft Picks

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All of the chatter surrounding Russell Westbrook had been that the former MVP was on his way to being traded to the Miami Heat.

The Heat were considered so much a favorite to land Westbrook, that there was even reports that indicated Russ on the Heat as an inevitability.

Well it turns out that deal was not an inevitable one, as Westbrook is on his way to Houston instead, where he will team up with an old friend.

The Rockets ended up using Chris Paul’s contract as a way to match up with the Thunder in a Westbrook trade and the massive draft capital they included put the deal over the top for Thunder GM Sam Presti.

Presti is now stockpiling assets, as his treasure trove of draft picks is getting rather deep.

Now the Thunder have 15 first round picks from 2020-2026, giving them an ample amount of chance to find their next star player in the draft. Those picks also have them the capital make any trade the want over the next five year.

The next trade may be for one of the pieces they just acquired, as Chris Paul could absolutely be on the move. If Paul is moved, the Thunder may not be done negotiating with the Heat after all.

Injury concerns aside, Paul may be a better fit for the Heat to play alongside Jimmy Butler anyway. Paul is a far superior three-point shooter, as a Westbrook-Butler backcourt would have been one of the worst three-point shooting units in the league.

There is also less pressure for Presti to receive assets in return for Paul, so the cap relief that Miami is offering may be enough to get a deal done.

Still, the headline here is the fact that Westbrook is once again teammates with James Harden, after Harden was traded from the Thunder to the Rockets back in 2012.

That duo does not necessarily make the most sense on paper, but the CP3-Harden backcourt was not aging very well anyway.

Now that they have two of the most ball-dominant guards in the league,
the Rockets may just play 48 minutes of iso, with Harden and Westbrook taking turns on offense.

Still, the fact that Harden and Westbrook wanted this, means that they may figure out a way to make it work.

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Basketball

The Big 3 – Week 3

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This past weekend SLiC traveled with The Big 3 to Birmingham Alabama to kick off week 3. Alabama is mostly known for their college football dominance, but also has some current and former NBA players from there.

We caught up with former UAB standout Robert Vaden, member of BIG3’s Aliens as well as Jamario Moon who played locally at Central-Coosa and on both D-League teams in Alabama.

Charles Barkley grew up a little outside of Birmingham in Leeds, Alabama. College teammates and current NBA players Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins and Eric Bledsoe both grew up in Alabama as well.

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Basketball

Kawhi Leonard Signs Short Contract, Sparks Conversation

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Details of Kawhi Leonard Contract Spark Conversation

This morning, the details surrounding Kawhi Leonard’s contract with the Los Angeles Clippers were announced: 3 years, $103M, with a player option in the third year. What was astonishing to some it just how short this contract may end up being… And that we may be in another Kawhi Sweepstakes in 2021. Further, Kawhi’s player option year is in the same season as Paul George’s, meaning both of the newest Clippers may be hitting Free Agency at the same time.

This “2+1” contract is reminiscent of contracts like LeBron James or Kevin Durant. The top tier of players can guarantee that they are always max dollar players, and the security they’ve earned in that often trumps the security in a longer contract. For example, Durant suffered a devastating injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and was still comfortable opting out of his contract in Golden State because he knew he could find more money elsewhere.

In one likely scenario, Leonard and George will find success in LA and simply re-up for more money in 2021. They will be eligible for a higher ceiling max contract, both based on their accomplishments and the steady rise of the salary cap.

In another scenario, however, something could go wrong with the pairing in the Clipper locker room and one or both could leave. Further, suitors for the Free Agent class of 2021 suddenly could see Leonard and George joining the likes of fellow NBA All Stars LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul, two time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, and several up and coming young stars like Julius Randle or Justise Winslow.

While this feels new and shaky for the fans, it may be the new reality for the stars. Taking shorter contracts, assuming you can still be rewarded after them, makes logical sense.

But, back to the Clippers, does this make the trade for Paul George feel different? Even if t’s hard to isolate George as the only asset the Clippers received (reports are that he demanded a trade after talking with Kawhi, making it a package deal), but they did give up an unprecedented amount of future draft picks, a solid starting perimeter player in Danilo Gallinari, and a promising young Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

But what the trade for George and signing of Kawhi Leonard did do, as well as the pair of All-NBA signings in Brooklyn, is prove one thing: the best thing a team can do to gain stars is be a strong franchise. The Clippers became the first team in the modern NBA to make the playoffs and win playoff games without any All-Stars. The Nets were a strong six seed led by 23-year-old All-Star in D’Angelo Russell and a cast of other role players.

Now, both teams have two of the best players in the world.

Clearly deals as short as Leonard and George’s may worry fans. The thought that a mortgaged future may be for two years of bliss seems overtly short sighted. But, if lessons from this wild Free Agency teaches us what to think about the impending ones, the answer is not to worry about those things, but to be a strong franchise in a good location.

Or, for Clipper fans, “pLAy your way,” as they claimed to do in the first round of the playoffs last spring.

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10 years ago I was sharing one pair of basketball shoes with my brother.  Last week I launched my own signature shoe with @nike.  The sport of basketball has changed my life and my family’s life in ways that we never even dreamed of.  #SportChangesEverything
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I can’t even begin to put into words all of the emotions I have right now. It’s been one heck of a journey Oklahoma! When I came here, I was 18 years old, bright eyed, and completely unaware of all the amazing things that would soon take place. I grew up in Oklahoma with an amazing bunch of people. The people here are what makes this place so special. From the fans, my coaches, my teammates, the entire Thunder organization, Mr. Bennett, Sam Presti, my friends, and everyone in the entire community. You are all what makes Oklahoma such a beautiful place, and the reason I’ve loved playing here all of this time. You have supported me through all of the ups and the downs, and stood by me through the good times, and tough times. For that I am eternally grateful to you. I’ve met so many amazing people who have helped shape me into the man that I am today. I hope I have impacted the Oklahoma community as much as Oklahoma has made an impact on me and my family. 
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  • Last weekend the @slic team was in Birmingham, Alabama with @thebig3 and caught up with former UAB standout Robert Vaden, member of BIG3’s Aliens as well as Alabama legend  Jamario Moon.

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